Saturday, April 24, 2010
Review: Whisper by Phoebe Kitanidis
The females in 15-year-old Joy Stefani’s family are all able to Hear Whispers: people’s unspoken desires. Joy Hears to please everyone around her, but her older sister Jessica (better known as Icka) hates her Hearing and lashes out at everyone around her. Joy and Icka used to be close, but their different attitudes toward the Whispers opens up a seemingly unfixable chasm between them.
Then, Joy’s Hearing starts changing for the worse, and Icka disappears. With unlikely help from an unlikely boy in her class, who has his own secrets, Joy sets off to find her sister and unravel the truth about their ability.
WHISPER is a story that covers lots of ground, ranging from siblings to family to self-esteem. While it has its most serious flaws concerning pacing, it is in the end an intriguing read that will resonate if you like this type of paranormal story.
WHISPER’s more serious themes of sisters and self-esteem are fairly well done. While most of the characters, particularly Joy, are annoying at the beginning with their shallow thoughts and dialogue, they manage to develop into sympathetic characters of the course of the novel as they face their challenges. In particular, I found the course of Joy and Icka’s sisterly relationship well-written and believable—even if the story does resort to borderline cheesy high-stakes paranormal melodrama to bring about the ending.
Unfortunately, the snail’s pace of the first two-thirds of this book made it so that I had a lot of trouble getting into the story. So much of the book seems to be spent laying down the situation, introducing Joy’s relationships with her friends and family, and showing examples of the sisters’ Hearing, that not enough in terms of plot occurred until the very end. If you can get past the first 150 or so pages, then you’re in for a treat: there’s plenty of action, reconciliation, and growth at the end of the novel to almost redeem itself for its utterly uneventful first half.
Almost. Its numerous flaws in characterization, pacing, and romantic development make it clear to me that this is not a book I would have finished had it not been for review. Nevertheless, WHISPER will probably appeal to lovers of unique paranormal ideas who will be willing to excuse its problems.
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - I like the color scheme, and that wispy/sound-wave-y/smoky thing going on, but I've seen far too many covers featuring half-faces of random girls to be able to be interested much in this one.
Balzer + Bray / April 27, 2010 / Hardcover / 288pp. / $16.99
ARC received from Around the World Tours.